by Sukanya GargAug 26, 2019
With new media we also see the inception of new culture. New culture, which develops from a sense of universality which comes with technology - an equaliser in many ways these days. Having grown up in Senegal, Brazil, Indonesia, as well as his home country Japan, Takuma Nakata is a global citizen if there ever was one. With global and local influences that have melded into a distinctive standpoint, Nakata develops software and hardware to build technology-enabled spatial experiences accessible to all.
Nakata talks to STIR about this vision and says, “I always keep in mind that we all don’t act or talk or behave in a same way. Language is different, (so is) religion, manner. So, when I design interaction, I always try to avoid languages and acts that only certain cultures understand. I try to keep it neutral and I believe designing interaction via computers has a lot to do with it”.
I met Nakata for the first time at the DesignUp Conference in Bangalore, India, where he presented a virtual reality installation with user interface designer Patricia Reiners, titled WALK. The artwork toys with the themes of machine learning and surveillance using interactive elements and a large screen, which uses a live camera feed to identify humans passing by, crossed with elements of generative art, which allows the viewer to modify the visuals seen on the screen.
Nakata says, “Machine Learning has recently become a big topic related to surveillance and privacy, but in my thought, machine learning has more potential to enhance creativity, to create new experiences and visuals that people haven’t seen yet. So that’s why I implemented machine learning to an art installation. I see machine learning as one technology to actually change our modern world and bring it to more non-linear society”.
Recalling his childhood while reflecting on his approach towards interactive new media art, Nakata says, “When I was in middle school, Flash Animation was so big online, and as a child living outside Japan, I enjoyed following Japanese Flash Animation Culture. But as soon as I started studying in university, I realised I was more interested in seeing people communicating through art rather than sitting in my class making something for teachers to review. And that was the point when I found this interactive Installation Archive. As soon as I saw this, I thought this is something I want to do, but at that point I had no idea how to make it but knew I need to learn programming, so decided to move to Utrecht Art University to study interaction design and programming”.
Nakata looks forward to sharing the experience of WALK and The Boundary with a wider audience across the world in 2020. His vision for the potential of immersive experiences goes beyond mere commercial utility. Nakata creates socially interactive spaces that provoke thought and intrigue. He shares his work and process, inspiration and travels on his Instagram account, where he also takes us through the journey of working in a creative industry while being colour-blind!
Nakata studied visual design in Kyoto (Japan), interaction design in Utrecht (Netherlands) and media philosophy in Kyoto again. He has exhibited his works in Japan, France, USA among other places, and was named an Adobe Resident for 2019-2020. Nakata recently collaborated with Aiko Fukuda, a fellow Adobe Resident, on Wonder Chamber, which was on display at Adobe MAX Japan and showcased another work titled The Boundary at Adobe MAX Los Angeles just a short while before the conference took place in Japan as well.